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Upgrades make Jeep's compact a much more premium SUV experience than you'd expect from the price.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The new features are mostly aesthetic, focusing on the headlights, grille, and the hood, but the visual effect is to take the Cherokee upscale, looking more mature and serious. The original Jeep Cherokee was introduced back in 1974 as a sporty and youth-oriented SUV, and that has never changed throughout the vehicle's 45-year history.

The new 2019 Cherokee builds on the successful Jeep JL platform used since 2014. The new features are mostly aesthetic, focusing on the headlights, grille, and the hood, but the visual effect is to take the Cherokee upscale, looking more mature and serious. The effect continues inside, with an upgraded interior and tech package that gives the Cherokee a much more premium SUV experience than you'd expect from the price.

The 2019 Cherokee offers three engine choices — the basic 2.4-liter Tigershark with 180 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, and then a 2.0-liter turbo or a 3.2-liter V6. The turbo is the hot rod engine of the group, with 270 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque for $2,245 extra. The V6 costs $1,745 more than the base engine, and gives you 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The Cherokee comes with a standard 7-inch touchscreen display audio system that supports UConnect 4, which supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

There are two 9-speed automatic transmissions to choose from. The standard transmission works with front-wheel-drive or Jeep's Active Drive I 4X4 system. The second transmission works with Active Drive II, which includes low-range gears for better off-road performance. This transmission is standard on the Cherokee Trailhawk trim with Active Drive Lock. RV travelers should note that the Cherokee can be flat-towed when equipped with Active Drive II.

The Cherokee comes with a standard 7-inch touchscreen display audio system that supports UConnect 4, which supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. More expensive trims receive an 8.4-inch display that adds Sirius/XM satellite radio, and the top Overland trim comes with the 8.4-inch screen and GPS navigation.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The rear seats are surprisingly room and comfortable for a compact SUV.

As the base trim, the Latitude edition comes with cloth upholstery, but the seats are no less comfortable than the higher trims. A good option for Portland buyers to choose with this trim is the Cold Weather Group. This package includes all-weather floor mats, heated front seats and steering wheel, remote start capability to preheat or cool the car, engine block heater, and you get a windshield wiper de-icer.

On the road, the Cherokee rides smooth but firm, glossing over bumps and giving you confidence in any weather. The test Cherokee had adequate power with the base engine and Active Drive I, which is a full-time AWD system with several modes for different traction conditions. This is an affordable choice that will suit the needs of most buyers. If you have serious off-road aspirations, choose Active Drive II or the Trailhawk edition. If you crave more power, get the V6 or the turbo. However you like it, there's a Cherokee to suit your needs.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Jeep designed the Cherokee with plent y of cargo space for those who enjoy the outdoors.

2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude

Base price: $26,940

Price as tested: $28,145

Type: Mid-size SUV

Engine: 2.4-liter inline 4 (180 hp, 171 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 23/31

Overall length: 182 inches

Curb weight: 3,655 to 4,108 pounds

Final assembly: Belvidere, Illinois

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